Mr. CoziNest and I were recently at a wine tasting where what to my wandering eyes should appear? A lovely lady that I knew I knew, but couldn’t remember her name. Can you relate? I looked at her and said, “I know you!” and she replied, “I know you, too!” This seems to happen more and more lately. The empty nest syndrome is quickly becoming the “empty brain” syndrome.
We started asking each other questions and before you knew it, we both were so happy to realize we really did know each other… in this life. Vicki Waterson Bailey was the K-1 Center principal when my now 22 year old daughter was 5 years old. Is it any wonder that we couldn’t remember?
We reminisced for an hour or so over a glass of wine. I learned that she’s made several trips to Italy, with her husband Richard to visit family and research the olive oil business and is now the proud owner of The Happy Olive.
Vicki is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and for her to be the successful entrepreneur of a thriving business in Fairhope makes me as happy as a pimento-stuffed olive! And as I’ve learned more about her business, I know that my heart will be happy and healthy if I make a point to shop in this cheerful little storefront.
The main reason that she started this business is that she wanted to share her knowledge of the health benefits of organic olive oils, balsamic vinegars, honey and different gourmet mustards. Why mustards? They are much better for us than mayo. The vinegars are great to use as a marinade and salad dressings, but can also be used in place of syrups over desserts. (I had no idea.) Vanilla ice cream topped with strawberry, coconut and pineapple balsamic with the actual fruit makes a healthier version of a banana split. And there’s no high fructose corn syrup.
As the descendant of family with multiple heart and cardiovascular issues, olive oil and it’s many heart-healthy benefits has become a staple in my home. The benefits of using olive oil in our diet are discussed in detail at Medical News Today, but I’m going to list those that are the most helpful to those of us over 50.
- People who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels).
- Older people who regularly used olive oil for cooking and salad dressing or with bread had a 41% lower risk of stroke, compared with their counterparts who never consumed it.
- Oleocanthal is a type of natural phenolic compound found in extra-virgin olive oil. In laboratory experiments with mice, researchers discovered that oleocanthal helps shuttle the abnormal Alzheimer’s disease proteins out of the brain.
- People whose diets are high in trans fats – fast foods and mass-produced foods like pastries – may have a higher risk of depression, compared with those whose diets are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
- A team of scientists at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain found a key mechanism by which virgin olive oil protects the body against breast cancer, in contrast to other vegetable oils.
In addition to health benefits, I’ve discovered the importance of virgin vs. extra virgin olive oil from the same source.
- U.S. Extra Virgin Olive Oil – has an excellent flavor and odor, and a free fatty acid content of ≤ 0.8g per 100g (0.8%).
- U.S. Virgin Olive Oil – has a reasonably good flavor and odor, and a free fatty acid content of ≤ 2g per 100g (2%).
- U.S. Olive Oil – this is an oil mix of both virgin and refined oils.
- U.S. Refined Olive Oil – this is an oil made from refined oils with some restrictions on the processing.
- These grades are voluntary.In many countries, including the USA, “light” or “extra light” olive oils are processed with heat and chemicals to take out impurities. The color and flavor is lighter, compared to virgin olive oils. Light olive oil is sometimes blended with other oils.
The store has great gifts as well. Baskets filled with some of the food products and kitchenware will please any hostess, new homeowner, or anybody who enjoys culinary excellence.
The vinegars and olive oils are bottled in the store. An added bonus is that when your bottle is empty, you can bring in the dishwasher-cleaned bottle to refill for $1 off.
The “happy” olive is simply a delightful little fruit. For this empty-nester who would rather eat out than in, this cheerful little shop has inspired me to spend a little more time in my own kitchen. The combination of oils and vinegars is endless.
Vicki was the principal where my daughter was taught to read. All these years later, she is still teaching and I am still reaping the rewards.